Note: I write this blog for many reasons. Part of it is therapy. Part of it is to vent. Part of it is to chronicle events. I’m not nearly perfect enough to have been given this task of caregiver, but with God’s help I will muddle through. I wish my posts were always upbeat and showed what a wonderful human being I am. But I’m trying to keep it real…
When you are the caregiver or the parent of a small child, you teach as well as love and nurture. You get excited when a child makes progress and learns new things. Talking, walking and potty training are some of the biggest early steps we celebrate. And then there are the later accomplishments that seem to pop up all the time- learning how to read, to write, to add and subtract. Learning how to defrag the hard drive of the computer…
All these things are accomplishments we relish as parents. We don’t get too frustrated (usually) because we know that there are steps that have to be taken before certain things are learned. usually crawling comes before pulling up which comes before walking.
Tying shoes is something that takes a lot of patience. And we don’t get upset because we know someday they will understand and tying shoes will be second nature.
When you are the caregiver of an adult with Alzheimer’s there is no learning. There are no accomplishments that are celebrated. No one thinks, “Yeah! Mom forgot how to tie her shoes today!” There is no way to know what the next step will be.
What is known today may not be known tomorrow and what is known now maybe forgotten in two hours, only to resurrect itself in three days. It is confusing not only to the person with AD, but to all those around them.
Friends who see the person with AD sometimes make comments like, “He really doesn’t seem that bad.” Of course, they haven’t been with the AD patient in the pizza parlor when the person talks about private intimate details of their sex life loud enough for all to hear.
What is cute in a child, for example- “Hey Daddy! I just went poo!” is not so endearing when an adult yells it across the room in a crowded public venue.
Caregivers need help. Lots of help and support and understanding. This emotional roller coaster is overwhelming at times. The rabbit holes we go down lead us more times than not to the Mad Tea Party and to the Red Queen shouting “Off with their heads!”
Would I give up being a caregiver? Hell yes! I’d give up my mom swearing at me and complaining to me and accusing me of things I haven’t done. I’d give up waiting for the next shoe to drop. I’d give up watching my mom try to cut her meat and needing help. I’d give up playing pharmacist and nurse and ‘baby sitter’ and meanest daughter in the whole wide world. I’d give up the lack of privacy. I’d give up the repetitive questioning and the probability (the reality) that things will only get worse. I’d give it all up. But I won’t. I love my mom and though she is not the same person she once was, she is still my mom.